Service providers are experiencing intensifying demand for IP services as businesses seek to boost productivity through information technology. One IP service of particular interest to service providers’ corporate customers is IP-enabled “virtual” private network service (often abbreviated as IP-VPN service). With IP-VPN, a service provider connects two IP addresses located at geographically dispersed sites. These two locations thus appear to be within a private IP network. The customer experiences a private network service that connects its remote sites, even though traffic actually flows though a shared provider infrastructure. The benefits of this “virtual” connection include greater reliability for the customer and better resource utilization for the service provider. In its simplest form, IP enabled means to seamlessly connect sites over the underlying provider network without the need for the customer to create IP connectivity between sites. Note, however, that IP enabled does not mean that the provider’s underlying transport technology is router-based only indeed it can, and often will, include technologies such as Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM).
The key to success and ultimate profitability of IP-VPN services goes beyond simply the enabling technology. Equally important is service manageability or the management of the entire life cycle of service: planning, provisioning, operations, and billing. Service management depends on the management of underlying network infrastructure and on the provision of interfaces to data mechanisms that drive the provider’s overall business process. The key to profitably in deploying VPN service is management. To address these important areas properly, this document focuses on network and service management issues.